Diane Prather: Easy-to-make candy: Chocolate Nut Clusters

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

I have to choose the easiest recipes when it comes to making Christmas candies. With the exception of popcorn balls, I usually don't have the time to make goodies involving a candy thermometer or to keep checking candy mixtures for their readiness.

So my favorite candy recipe (possibly also my husband's favorite) involves melting a pound of chocolate candy coating (I think that's what it's called), stirring, adding salted peanuts or salted mixed nuts, and spooning the candy mixture onto waxed paper. The candy doesn't last long around our house.

Just a note about the candy coating: Chocolate and almond bark coating come packaged in microwavable trays. The coating is "scored" so that it can be broken off in squares. When I looked for almond bark at the grocery store yesterday, I was told that it is hard to find. I was able to get CandiQuick brand of vanilla coating which tastes about the same as almond bark.

Almond bark is one of the ingredients of the next recipe that I made for the first time yesterday evening. The recipe (origin unknown) has been in my file for some time.

The ingredients for "Chocolate Nut Clusters" are: 1 pound of almond bark (or white candy-melts or vanilla candy coating), 1 pound milk chocolate chips or part milk chocolate and part semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 pound mixed salted nuts or salted peanuts. (I used part milk chocolate and part semi-sweet chips.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the almond bark (or substitute) in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add the chips. Shut the oven off. Put the dish in the oven, close the door, and leave the dish for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and stir to blend ingredients. (I found 25 minutes to be the right time.)

Add the nuts and blend. Then, drop the candy mixture by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow to set up.

I don't know why the recipe calls for the 9x13-inch dish, unless it allows for more even melting of ingredients.

I like this interesting recipe because I didn't have to worry about the candy mixture burning and could go off and do something else. However, I had a disaster of sorts with the candy that had nothing to do with the recipe.

I counted on a can of salted peanuts I saw on the pantry shelf to be fresh, but after I'd mixed up the candy, I discovered that I actually had half a can of stale peanuts. (The lesson: Do not put half a can of nuts on the pantry shelf.) Anyway, since that was all I had, I went ahead and mixed the peanuts into the melted candy.

You can guess what happened. Don't let my mistake keep you from making this recipe. The candy mixture is delicious.

I have a special treat for you in next week's column. The author of a new cookbook will share a recipe with us.

Send your favorite holiday recipes. Call me at 824-8809 or send your recipes to me at Box 415, Craig 81626.

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